Hey everyone! I’m guest posting over on Megan’s blog, Cooking Whims today. Make sure you go check it out!!
Lots of good stuff happening! Enjoy!
As I’ve mentioned before, the best part about blogging (besides the food) is meeting some amazing people. I first “met” Megan from Cooking Whims via Twitter. I remember the days when I had a Twitter account and never used it. To be honest, when I got my smartphone that is when I started obsessing over Twitter. But that’s a different story for another day. I officially met Megan at the Boston Bloggers Launch Party and we immediately hit it off. We’ve hung out a bunch of times after that and I really love reading her blog. She has some great recipes to offer (such as this and this) and is just a great person overall. Be sure to visit her! (After you read this post that is!)
I am happy and flattered that I was the inspiration for Megan’s first attempt at making bread. I am by no means an expert on bread making, and I still have a long way to go, but it really doesn’t get any better than taking out a freshly baked loaf of bread. Makes you never want to buy bread ever again!
So without further ado, here’s Megan!
First of all, I’m honored to be guest posting for Amanda. I absolutely love her posts, her recipes, and her pictures. I got a chance to connect with Amanda in person at the Boston Food Blogger Launch Party back in January—and we’ve been bumping into each other at other Boston food blogger events ever since!
When Amanda said she needed another guest post for her blog (because she’s going to San Fran—so jealous, by the way), I immediately jumped on the opportunity. I also knew just what to make: Bread. Amanda makes a mean bread, and I’m excited to share this recipe on her blog.
Up until a few weeks ago, I had never made anything beyond an easy quick bread recipe. I love baking, but I was always too afraid to try homemade bread. What if the dough didn’t rise? What if it turned out like a brick? What if it didn’t taste good? What if I spent 3+ hours on a recipe only to have it fail?
Then I thought, I’m worrying too much. If other people can do it, why can’t I? Also, homemade bread tastes like heaven. I wanted my tummy to feel that joy.
So on a bitterly cold Sunday morning, I rolled up my sleeves, took out the flour, and started the bread-making process.
From The Comfort Table by Katie Lee Joel
1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, the sugar, onion powder, dill weed, 1 ¼ tsp salt, baking soda, and the yeast.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cottage cheese, ¼ cup water and 1 tbsp of butter. Stir the mixture constantly until creamy and simmering, but not boiling. Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the egg (so it doesn’t scramble).
3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat about 4 minutes. Let the mixture sit for 8 minutes.
4. Then with a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 2 cups of flour, turning out onto a work surface to gently knead in the loose flour if necessary.
5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
6. Punch down the dough into a greased 9.5 or 10 inch loaf pan. Cover again and allow the dough to double in size for 1 to 1 ½ hours.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8. Bake until golden brown on top and baked through, about 35-40 minutes.
If desired, sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve warm with butter.
But since this was my first time making bread, I learned quite a few things during the process.
First, I honestly did not use the 1 ¼ tsp of salt listed in the ingredients and the directions. In the cookbook I got this from, the salt wasn’t listed in the ingredients list, but it was in the directions. And I somehow skipped over it. So it was a botch on my end. However, the bread turned out pretty great without it.
Second, I don’t actually recommend using a hand mixer. I would use a stand mixer if you have one. I don’t have one, but I know they’re pretty spectacular. The dough was extremely sticky when mixed with my electric mixer and got stuck in all of the little grooves in my beaters, and then to my hands…it was a mess, and I lost a bit of precious wet dough in the process. And so then working the additional 2 cups of flour into the mix was a bit of a challenge because there wasn’t enough moisture for it all to stick. So I just added a tiny bit of warm water to the dough and incorporated as much of the flour as I could. It all worked in the end.
For the cottage cheese mixture, be sure to get real cottage cheese, not the fat free kind. The fat free kind has a ton of water, and you want the mixture that goes into the flour to be creamy. How do you know it’s creamy enough when it’s on the stove? I simply guessed, but I waited until it was almost to the point of boiling and most of the lumps in the cheese were gone.
Please love this bread as much as I did. My boyfriend and I ate half the loaf in one afternoon. We couldn’t resist eating slice after slice. Dill is a beautiful flavor, and the cottage cheese makes it moist and delectable.
Plus, this is overall a really easy recipe. Most of the work was done by the yeast while I sat on the couch watching TV. Perfect way to end the weekend!
When I was planning my wedding I stumbled upon The Knot which is a website with everything wedding. It’s a little overwhelming, so I found myself hanging out on the boards. They have boards for everything, whether it be where you live, if you’re having a destination wedding, to the specific month and year you are getting married. When I joined that board I didn’t realize that I would make some magnificent friends.
One of them is Jeni, who is a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Kansas City. I’m pretty sure if Jeni and I lived in the same city we would be best friends, because she is so full of life and energy and is just a great person overall. Jeni takes amazing photos, and if you have a chance, please head on over to her blog and website and check it out.
I am REALLY excited that she has decided to blog about food photography. As many bloggers know, the PHOTOS really tell the story. Sure, you can write a 500+ blog entry about the fantastic meal you made last night, but without great photos, the excitement can be really toned down for your readers. I hope you enjoy Jeni’s post and that you learn a little more about taking great pictures!
Aside from blogging about the various sessions I capture for the totally awesome families and couples who hire me, I really like to…how do I say this without being all hoity-toity…well…I like to blog about myself. Okay, not really myself in the first-person, but about my life and the adventures I have with those I love. Are you getting the jist of this? Either way…I talk about myself and my life and my family alongside photography. Today…I talk about food. Specifically…how to capture it so it doesn’t look revolting in camera.
First things first…food presentation. Take into consideration what plateware you’re using for your food. I may use the blue bowl for my chili when I’m sitting on the couch catching up on Jersey Shore, but I’m going to use the white bowl instead when I’m taking a picture. The food is your focus – ensure that it remains that way by selecting plateware that enhances the food.
Next up…location. As a natural light enthusiast, I avoid the use of artificial lighting. Living in an apartment, my kitchen doesn’t have any windows, so I have to relocate my setup to somewhere that does. Utilize what you have around you – I am a fan of tv trays, benches, railings…whatever, again, enhances but doesn’t take away from my image…
This picture was taken on a tv tray in my living room.
Next up…lighting. I typically photograph in the daytime so I’m able to take advantage of natural light. In my opinion, natural light allows any image to appear more real. Face your food towards your light source…
Or…place the light directly behind your food and allow it to cast a nice glow, as seen above with the water glass.
For those of you who are late-night bakers and can’t afford to wait until the sun comes up to take your pictures, invest in a white box…or if you’re like me…create your own with the use of white poster board, a white bedsheet, etc. Remember, the color you choose as your backdrop will be cast upon your food.
White is a natural reflector, so it’s going to give you additional light by bouncing around the existing lighting you have access to, and it’s not going to tint your images (which creates more work in post-processing).
Experiment and see what works for you in your food photography. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your food…
group like items together and create a full-bodied image…
or include people…
I’m not a professional food Photographer by any means, but these are the tricks that have helped me in creating images ideal for my blog posts that pertain to delectable edibles. Have fun taking pictures and celebrating the moments!